The Department of State Security is hard at work to establish a Review Panel into the State Security Agency, Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba said on Friday.
Delivering the State Security Budget Vote in Parliament, Minister Letsatsi-Duba said the State Security Agency (SSA) has been the subject of discussion and debate regarding its governance and operational capacity in the recent past.
“We are therefore encouraged by and welcome the decision of President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint a Review Panel that will assess the structure of the Agency in relation to its mandate and inquire into its systems and capacity.
“This announcement is indeed the strongest confirmation that this Ministry is carrying out its work in line with the Constitution and the mission which seeks to strengthen public institutions,” she said.
In a Parliamentary session last week, President Ramaphosa instructed the Minister to restore integrity at the SSA.
During a post-Budget Vote media briefing, Letsatsi-Duba said the panel will look into governance issues, control systems and whether there are weaknesses in legislation.
“All these issues will be looked into and our failures in terms of the systems and processes. This will be the work [of the] panel itself,” she said.
She said that the department can’t as yet release the names of the panel members.
“We are confident that they will do the work,” she told the briefing.
President Ramaphosa, in his State of the Nation Address (SONA), spoke to the need to restore the integrity and credibility of public institutions.
In her Budget Vote speech, the Minister said the department is hard at work to ensure a swift establishment of the panel, which will be constituted by a team of no more than 10 experts.
The experts range from fields such as intelligence restructuring, security governance, ICT development, organisational change management and strategic thinkers.
“Upon the completion of the Panel’s assignment, we shall work with speed to implement its recommendations as we focus on restoring the public’s confidence and trust in this important institution,” said the Minister.
“It is quite evident that one of our urgent tasks is to respond to this state of affairs and take bold decisions which speak to the directive given by the President, guided by the Constitution.”
The Minister said since taking over responsibility at the department in February, she has engaged senior managers and officials responsible for the various programmes of all entities reporting to the Ministry so she can fully grasp the extent and depth of the operational and governance capability.
She said this exercise exposed systemic structural and governance weaknesses that require urgent intervention. “It became clear that these challenges stem from recent past where the Agency has been in a perpetual state of transition.”
Letsatsi-Duba spoke out against rogue elements within intelligence services, saying it is essential to root these out to restore the public’s confidence.
“In this regard, there could be no place for rogue elements within our intelligence services. We have a responsibility to ensure that the institutions responsible for being the guardians of peace, democracy and the Constitution have to be clean and free to conduct its work with integrity.
“We will also ensure that controls in relation to the financial management of the institution, particularly in relation to the management of operational funds, are strengthened,” she said.
The department will conduct a review of the relevance of the training curriculum content of the Intelligence Academy so that “we can assure ourselves that our officers receive the highest standard of tradecraft training to ensure competence in fulfilling national security requirements”.
The department will conduct a comprehensive review of the functioning of its analytical capacities, as this is supposed to be the engine which drives the intelligence gathering and advising machinery.
“We are resolute in ensuring that we reconstruct the Agency, arrest the rot while ensuring at the same time that corporate governance and efficiency is enhanced,” said the Minister.
The department will also work on cost cutting measures without compromising service delivery, while enhancing levels of accountability.